Does Your Carbon Footprint Cost you $250 per tonne?

Does Your Carbon Footprint Cost you $250 per tonne?

Sent Thursday, October 21, 2010


Last month my Sustainability Leadership Program hit the mid-way

point. We all came together for the second of three live workshops

which are supported by online learning and coaching. As you can see

here we’re all smiling because it really was a fantastic three

days. You’re going to be hearing a lot more about this programme as

I get set to launch the 2011 cohort. Now, a word about what you’ll

be hearing about. You’ve probably noticed slightly more emails from

me this month than normal. It’s because I want to expand what I am

doing so I can help more museums around the world. This is a really

important time for museums. More and more budget cuts, and honestly

I still see museums literally throwing money out the window in the

form of energy and materials wastage. Between you and me I’m

assuming that because you’re subscribed to the newsletter you are

interested in what I have to offer. Now, I promise to continue to

deliver the high-quality monthly content in each and every Green

Guide newsletter. And even if you only ever read the newsletters,

you are still receiving a great value. But I hope you don’t mind if

I sent you a few announcements here and there. You can always

ignore them, but I hope you won’t.


To your greener future,

Rachel Madan, Director of Greener Museums



Here’s what’s in this issue:


* Visualizing Your Carbon Footprint

* Client Success Story: The Port Sunlight Museum and Garden


* Upcoming Events

* About Rachel Madan



Best wishes,


Rachel Madan


Client Success Story: The Port Sunlight Museum & Garden Village


Katherine Lynch is a participant in Greener Museums 2010

Sustainability Leadership Program*


“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the live

workshops and that I’ve returned to work with renewed enthusiasm

and a determination to ‘make time’ for sustainability. I gained a

huge amount of knowledge and ideas both from you and also from my

colleagues on the programme – what a fantastic bunch of people;

many of whom I’ve never encountered before. Since returning to work

I’ve enlisted the support of a Trustee – who is very keen – and

have planned a series of sustainability knowledge development

workshops with the staff and volunteers here over the next couple

of months.”


–Katherine Lynch, Museum Manager

Port Sunlight Museum & Garden Village


*All 2010 Participants have been funded by Renaissance North West




Visualizing Your Carbon Footprint


Could your carbon footprint be costing $250 a tonne? In my

experience, the answer to this question is probably yes. (By the

way, this is about £148 or Euros per tonne). Most museums have

trouble figuring out their carbon footprint in the first place, and

then even once the figure is known, there is the difficulty of

communicating the figure and then reducing the impact. Carbon is

one of the key indicators available to you in working towards a

sustainable museum. It is absolutely critical that you communicate

your emissions and your improvements both internally to staff and

externally to visitors and stakeholders. However, carbon figures

can be rather abstract and difficult to understand. Carbon dioxide

is invisible, we can’t see it, and so a lot of times that means we

haven’t necessarily paid attention to it. So what to do? As museum

professionals interested in encouraging and communicating

sustainability, it is our job to make it visible. Let’s look at a

couple ways that people and organisations have tried to communicate

emissions into something more relevant or easily understandable by

their stakeholders.


Financial Visualization

Governments are attempting to make carbon more tangible through

carbon taxes and carbon tariffs. For example, if you take a flight

there could be a carbon tax on it or the opportunity to carbon

offset your flight. When you see the cost on the ticket you are

made aware of the cost of carbon. Carbon taxes and carbon tariffs

therefore make carbon more visible through a monetary function.

Meters which monitor your electricity consumption do this in a

similar way. Advanced electricity meters can show your emissions,

your kilowatt hours, as well as translating that into a monetary

cost. So if you have a smart meter in an office for example, or at

an entryway where people are coming in, they can see directly how

much electricity is being used, what that translates to in terms of

emissions and then finally how much that costs. Another thing you

could try, and I know this will be controversial for some, is to

figure out what your carbon is costing in terms of visitor ticket

sales, art or objects you are trying to purchase, or business

trips. So for example, if a tonne of carbon costs $250, and a

ticket to your special exhibit is $25, 1 tonne of carbon is worth

10 visitor tickets. So for every tonne reduced it’s like selling 10



Carbon Equivalencies

Carbon is usually communicated in tonnes. These figures can still

be difficult to conceptualise with people perhaps wondering what

those figures actually mean. These figures, like how much carbon

dioxide your organisation emits in a day, can be translated into

more concrete terms that your audience or your staff can relate to.

For example, your organization’s carbon footprint can be translated

into the amount of tonnes emitted by a typical house, a typical car

or a typical person. Another way of communicating these figures is

through spatial relationships. Carbon Quilt (

is an organisation that

demonstrates visually the relationships between the volume of

carbon and familiar objects. You can see drawings and imagery of

what one ton of carbon looks like, the carbon footprints of London

and various countries as well as comparing different countries.